Michigan Democrats propose magazine limit after Oxford school shooting

Craig Mauger
The Detroit News

Lansing — Michigan Democrats unveiled bills to limit the capacity of ammunition magazines on Thursday with state Sen. Rosemary Bayer, whose district includes Oxford, calling for a "change of heart" within the GOP-controlled Legislature. 

The bills came nine days after the Nov. 30 shootings at Oxford High School, where 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley is accused of using a gun to kill four students while wounding six others and a teacher. Crumbley fired 30 rounds during the five-minute ordeal and possessed three, 15-round magazines, Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said Dec. 1.

Sen. Rosemary Bayer speaks at a press conference on Dec. 9, 2021, to introduce bills to limit magazines to 10 rounds.

The new Democratic bills would prohibit the sale or possession of a magazine capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition beginning on Jan. 1, 2023. The proposals would make Michigan safer, contended Sean Holihan, state legislative director at the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

"The time it takes for the gunman to reload a weapon could be a time for a victim to escape a shooter, could be a time for law enforcement or a bystander to intervene," Holihan said.

The 2011 shooting in Arizona, where six people were killed and 13 were injured, including then U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, was interrupted when the gunman stopped to reload and was tackled by a bystander, according to Holihan's organization.

Bayer, D-Beverly Hills, said Democrats planned to introduce the legislation before the mass shooting at Oxford High School. But, she added, when a tragedy strikes, lawmakers have a role to play: proposing policy changes that could save lives.

"The majority party here in the Michigan Legislature has chosen to do nothing about these gun tragedies for years," Bayer said.

She said later, "I am asking all of my colleagues in the Senate and House for a change of heart."

The Republican-controlled Michigan Legislature has consistently resisted imposing new restrictions on firearms for years. Last week, Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, told reporters there would be a time to determine whether the lawmakers should act after the Oxford mass shooting.

"If we get obsessed with eliminating all risks, we will then develop and evolve into a country we won't recognize," Shirkey said.

House Speaker Jason Wentworth, R-Farwell, said Wednesday that he's "open" to listening to suggestions for reforms from Democratic lawmakers.

The National Rifle Association advocates against capacity limits.

"Many of the most popular firearms in America are designed to use magazines with a capacity greater than 10 rounds," the group's website says.

Nine other states and Washington, D.C., have similar magazine limitations in place similar to what Michigan Democrats proposed on Thursday, Bayer said.

Introduced in the House and Senate, the bills would allow people who already possess magazines that hold more than 10 rounds to keep them if the individuals report the magazines to local law enforcement.

"We're not taking away anything," Bayer said at one point.

The bills would exempt law enforcement officers, members of the armed forces and individuals working in armored cars from the limitation.

A person who violated the prohibition would be guilty of a misdemeanor potentially punishable by not more than 90 days in jail and a fine of $500.


Staff Writers Beth LeBlanc and James David Dickson contributed.